Set to continue the series with great gusto, Red Faction: Guerilla will release to the striking of sledgehammers and mashing of gamepads in Europe on 12th June. Having enjoyed a long rest from the fight for Mars, the Red Faction series appears to have morphed and evolved into a game easily distinguishable from its forebears.
So what’s changed? Well the most obvious place to start would be with the perspective. Where the first two games were played as first-person shooters, Guerilla has opted for a third-person setup, which changes both the visual styling of the game and the gameplay. The third-person viewing angle was probably employed in the wake of Volition’s recent third-person, gangsta-blastin’ outing – Saints Row 2. While affecting the core dynamics of the game, the new perspective offers more scope and opportunity for the graphics designers to strut their stuff, particularly in the field of character design, namely the protagonist, Alec Mason.
The graphics have a very crisp quality to them, making the Martian environments that much more believable. While prone to a little screen-tearing (which is only really noticeable when the game is viewed with intense scrutiny), Guerilla puts on a tremendous ensemble piece when it comes down to the overall visual package, with the pièce de résistance coming8 in the form of the famed and much-hyped deformation system. Similar to, but much more satisfying than Battlefield: Bad Company’s terrain deformation engine, Guerilla’s offering in the sphere of environmental destruction is “wow”-inducing. A personal favourite example in the demo was breaking into a port-a-loo to use as cover.
Swiftly dodging the opportunity for some truly red-faced comedy, I’ll move onto the gameplay. Using a control layout common to most of the titles comprising the ever-growing list of Third-Person Shooters, the thumbstick sensitivity, button-mapping and movement controls fit this game as well as on old jumper, but manage to maintain the fresh finesse of a brand new Versace suit.
It appears, however, that the protagonist, failing to procure either of these items of apparel looked at the game’s title, and stroking his budding, revolutionary beard opted for an outfit that screams “El-Ché” more than a red star and a beret. Beyond the verdant green vision that is Alec Mason’s attire, the character skins for the enemies, while generic, suit the setting of the game well, accentuating the theme of armies of drones working for “the man”, EDF. Anyone beginning to see a somewhat…revolutionary trend?
In terms of producing an emphatic bout of aural ecstasy, Red Faction: Guerilla falls short of the mark, but that is not to say that the game’s sound is sub-par. Offering up the eccentric, computerized twinklings of a spy-thriller soundtrack coupled with some faux-epic orchestral guff, Guerilla ticks the boxes but doesn’t quite hand in its voting form.
Plot-wise, there is not much to be seen from the demo alone, but Guerilla promises to upset the…space apple cart of the first two games. Filling the shoes of new Mars resident, Alec Mason, the player is pitted AGAINST the organization which formed the ‘good side’ in the first games, the EDF. The group, which has begun to kidnap the Martian colonists and put them in forced-labour camps must be stopped and, of course, you’re the man for the job. The theme of revolution runs clearly through the veins of Red Faction: Guerilla; from the ‘Power to the people’ logotype to the revolutionary fashion inclinations of the protagonist.
Playing through the missions is a breath of fresh air for the genre. The player is basically placed upon the map, given their mission and set free to accomplish it via any route they see fit. This allows for some of the truly comical moments which make games memorable, while also extending the game’s lifespan and making room for more use of what could be considered the game’s key selling point – environmental deformation.
With the level exhibited in Guerilla’s demo, THQ has definitely wet my gamebuds for some Red Faction action. The freshness of the gameplay and brisk pace of the levels sets the scene for enjoyable gaming supplying gun-blasting greatness for hardcore and casual gamers alike. The range of weapons is interesting, including my personal favourites, the sledgehammer (it was a given) and the explosive charges (again, a given). For those of you with a disposition for extra-terrestrial anarchy and a gun-toting wild side, the demo for Red Faction: Guerilla crashes through the wall of the Marketplace on 23rd April with a retail release on 12th June.